Citizens Advice helps thousands of people and adds £13million into economy

PUBLISHED: 07:29 15 November 2017

The Badger Centre in Wadham Street.

The Badger Centre in Wadham Street.

Archant

People in North Somerset are collectively £13million better off, thanks to work done over the past 12 months by a Weston-super-Mare advice organisation.

Citizens Advice North Somerset (CANS) is based at the Badger Centre in Wadham Street, and helped inject £13,122,864 into communities in 2016-17 by supporting people’s efforts to generate income, win charity grants and write off debt.

One of its most successful services has been the creation of First Steps, a project run in partnership with North Somerset Council.

It helps people struggling to pay council tax by creating an affordable repayment plan and ensuring the maximum amount of council tax support and discounts are received.

Susan O’Connor, chairman of the CANS board of trustees, said: “First Steps – formerly South Ward Initiative – is a partnership between North Somerset Council, Liberata and CANS.

“The aim of the project is to help residents across North Somerset who are in receipt of council tax support and in arrears with their council tax.

“In 2016-17 the charity supported 244 clients through this project with total financial outcomes of £179,353 through benefits gained and debts managed or written off.

“In total this year the charity dealt with 7,010 clients generating 18,300 advice issues.

“Welfare rights accounted for 42 per cent of the issues, money advice for 28 per cent, housing for seven per cent, employment for six per cent and relationship and family for five per cent.

“The total financial gain for clients for the year 2016-17 was £13,122,864, which includes income gained, debts written off, charitable grants received and consumer problems resolved.

“For every £1 invested in CANS, £30.67 is going back into the local economy.”

The service will move from its current base in 2019, as the building has been converted into a creative hub by the council.

Although the council extended the CANS lease by 12 months, it still needs to find a new home.

New premises in Waterloo Street have been identified and plans are currently being drawn up, but the move is expected to cost around £200,000.

For more information and to support CANS, visit www.nscab.org.uk

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